Author: Shanila Sattar
(From mindbody web)
Have you ever experienced a sound bath? It’s not what it sounds like—there is no water involved! Sound Baths take you on an acoustic journey that uses vibrations and frequencies tuned specifically to help the mind and body relax. It’s a practice in presence, listening, being, and allowing, much like meditation. Certain sounds activate our body’s natural healing systems, regulate our body’s processes, and get us to brain states that give us all the benefits traditional meditation can—the better sleep, mood, focus, clarity, energy, and much more.
Experience a sound bath
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
This experience can be deeply healing, emotional, peaceful, centering, spiritual, and yes, you may fall asleep! There is no “normal” experience, and each time is different. It’s common to feel heat energy move through the body, feel tingling, hot or cold, feel and see colors, and get messages through beautiful visuals. It can be described as a deeply spiritual experience.
Sound as a healing tool
Sound is the most ancient form of healing—think of the use of voice dating back to ancient times. Throughout every known culture, we’ve used some form of sound to express joy, grief, anger, and love. It is the most primal form of expression that connects our body, mind, and soul. It is the same way singing and music has the ability to evoke emotions, memories, and connection; we seek it to find comfort, solace, and energize.
Often in times of high stress our body goes through a physiological strain, where essentially our heart and muscles are working harder than they need to, constricting our breathing, lessening the healing functions of our nervous system, and overtaxing our adrenal system. This over-activation puts you in a constant “flight or flight” mode. Research has shown that sound vibrations and frequencies send signals to our body and brain that slow down our stress response. Our bodies are in a constant state of deciding if it is in danger and tends to overwork itself, and when we send a signal that basically says, “Hey, you are okay”, it takes us out of the flight and fight mode and into a state of relaxation.
Sound vibrations and frequencies also help slow down some of our automatic functions and get us to a restoration state. In rest, we’re able to optimize our body, both produce and absorb important feel good hormones, and relax. Sound, music, and frequency therapies all utilize deep knowledge of brain waves, neurological pathways, emotional healing, energy, and pain processing in the practices. Experiencing a sound bath helps bring back the body and brain’s vibrations to an equilibrium state. For an active mind, the sounds bring the mind to rest; for a slower mind, the sounds awaken. When a balance is reached, we get something known as “the dream state.” In this space, it feels like that spot in between being asleep and awake—in between consciousness and in harmony.
The beautiful art of sound alchemy is practiced by healers, therapists, doctors, musicians, and more. Practitioners curate an experience that weaves together the art of the entrainment journey of a sound bath—which has a beginning, middle, and an end.
The instruments used in a sound bath are carefully selected; crystal bowls, chimes, and other instruments will emit a different frequency and vibration depending on what it is made of. For example, alchemy bowls use beautiful mineral compositions, and based on a specific composition, will have a unique electromagnetic transference than another bowl that is of another combination and size. Gongs have measurable frequencies that also talk to different parts of the body. Music research shows certain notes and combinations activate different parts of the body. The beauty of sound alchemy is that the possibilities are endless!
Can’t make it to a studio? Try a virtual sound bath
There are several ways to experience a virtual sound bath. Here are a few recommendations on how to prepare and participate.
1. Set the mood. Much like meditation, find a comfortable place you can be for the duration of the sound bath. Cozy suggestions include blankets, pillows, jammies, kitties, puppies, dimmed lights, candles, and aromatherapy.
2. It’s a great idea to turn off distractions, silence your phones, and place your devices where you can be hands-free to experience the sound bath.
3. Use headphones. The nuances of the frequencies travel better virtually through headphones or external speakers. You’ll also be able to control the volume to your liking.
4. Come with an open mind and heart. Each experience is different. Allow yourself to be present and give yourself permission to surrender. If thoughts and emotions come up, they’re a part of it. Let them come and let them flow through. Like in yoga, this is a practice. Be nice to yourself.
5. Post care: Drinks lots of water and ground yourself before you do anything else. A cup of hot tea, a nice bath, or journaling are a few favorite integrations.
6. Share with a friend and family!
What to look for in a virtual sound bath
1. Find a sound bath with a learned practitioner. There are many intricacies of frequencies, brain states, and music that sound artists curate with an immense level of mindfulness and care. Experiencing a beautifully curated sound bath with an incredible practitioner will make a difference.
2. Experience a sound bath that is streaming with great sound quality. Due to the nuances of how sounds travel through a lot of online platforms, you want to make sure you’re receiving the same frequencies that are being sent to you with a practitioner who has set up their online streaming with care.
3. Find sound baths that are at least 10 minutes or longer. Quick experiences are great, but to get a full feel of the sound bath, aim to attend something between 30 minutes to 1 hour in length.
4. Try a few different styles of sound baths! Each has a unique feel and flavor; experiment with what instruments resonate with you.
5. And of course, when you can, experience a sound bath in person!